The good news, in terms of foreign policy, about Democrats winning elections is that they’re not Republicans. The bad news is that some Democrats are Tom Lantos, chair of our House Foreign Affairs Committee, so you wind up with congressional Democrats attacking Iraq Study Group members from the right, coming out firmly against negotiating with Syria or Iran. Democratic hawks are probably sensible enough to not actually want to see a bigger regional war, but they’re certainly not going to do anything to stop it from happening.
New Republic editor in chief Martin Peretz offers us a preview of the remix:
By the way, next week or the week after, we are running an article by Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi on Iran’s nuclear capacity, and what should be done about it. We already know what Clinton thinks should be done: wear a yellow ribbon.
Gee, what could Oren and Halevi possibly propose in the pages of The New Republic? Will it be that Israel should bomb with America’s diplomatic support, or that America should bomb ourselves? I expect a “ruthlessly serious” proposal one way or the other. Meanwhile, why are hawkish American magazines literally outsourcing their Iran coverage to Israeli pundits? It’s like Pat Buchanan is secretly controlling their editors’ minds or something.
Following the guidelines Congress set down in the Military Commissions Act late last year, the Pentagon yesterday unveiled new rules for detainee trials “that could allow terror suspects to be convicted and perhaps executed using hearsay testimony and coerced statements.”
At a Pentagon briefing, Dan Dell’Orto, deputy to the Defense Department’s top counsel, said the new rules will “afford all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people.” Dell’Orto’s view is not shared throughout the Pentagon’s counsels office. Col. Dwight H. Sullivan, the Chief Defense Counsel in the Office of Military Commissions, issued a statement yesterday criticizing the new rules:
The rules appear carefully crafted to ensure than an accused can be convicted — and possibly executed — based on nothing but a coerced confession. The rules would allow an accused to be executed based on nothing but hearsay.
The rules’ broad protections for classified information threaten to swallow everything. These rules are particularly scary coming in the wake of new Guant¡namo classification guidelines that make even the prisoners’ own name classified as ‘SECRET.’
The rules violate the principle that the jury shouldn’t be allowed to see anything that the defendant can’t see. Witnesses can be shielded so that the defendant can’t see them, but the jury can.
Read Sullivan’s full statement here.
As you’re recall, Bush is going to fix the Iraq War by firing George Casey and listening to Fred Kagan instead. Kagan said we should send 50,000 additional troops to Iraq for at least 18 months. Bush agreed. Which is why he’s sending 20,000 troops and now has general Casey saying they’re home by summer. Or, rather, that they “could begin to be withdrawn by late summer” but only “if security conditions improve in Baghdad.” A classic Iraq War formulation. As I recall the baseline occupation force was going to begin withdrawing in late 2003 if security conditions improve. The whole thing has, at this point, become an exceptionally cruel farce. Meanwhile, Iranian efforts to defend their tanks against our airplanes are “offensive” actions that the United States needs to worry about.
China successfully tests an anti-satellite weapon, joining the United States and Russia in the “we can blow up satellites” club. I would suggest that a US-China outer space arms race is going to ill-serve the population of either China, the United States, or the other nations of the world. The bonanza for defense contractors is obvious, but what the world could really use is for such a race to not happen and for the current demilitarization of outer space to continue. Obviously since this is an issue, and the Bush administration is the Bush administration, it’s mishandled the issue:
Arms control experts called the test, in which the weapon destroyed an aging Chinese weather satellite, a troubling development that could foreshadow an antisatellite arms race. Alternatively, however, some experts speculated that it could precede a diplomatic effort by China to prod the Bush administration into negotiations on a weapons ban. . . .
White House officials said the United States and other nations, which they did not identify, had “expressed our concern regarding this action to the Chinese.” Despite its protest, the Bush administration has long resisted a global treaty banning such tests because it says it needs freedom of action in space.
As ever in these situation, good faith negotiations for a treaty might fail. Or a treaty might come into place and the disarmament regime it creates might crumble in the future. But then again, negotiations might succeed. The Chinese have always maintained that they want to see demilitarization, and the United States says it doesn’t want to see Chinese space weapons, so the obvious solution would be to negotiate a more rigorous treaty aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space.